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Saturday 19th January 2019 – Namibia

With another early start we found ourselves having breakfast shortly after 6 a.m. eating once again al fresco in shorts and short sleeve shirts but glad that it was a little cooler. I was a little concerned about the lengthy journey back north to Swakopmund on the west coast of Namibia but in the end I had no reason to worry as it was a very eventful day.

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First we had a good coffee stop at the quaint little town of Solitaire.

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Then the most wonderful stop in the countryside where a local man took us out into the desert and told us about how animals and bushman survived in the desert. I cannot praise this visit enough.

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The visit was entertaining and informative and the local man used the most amazing pedagogical techniques which would have put any superstar tv production to shame. I certainly now know that the worst thing that can happen to the desert is lots of rain.

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dsc05167Springbok

dsc05135Oryx

dsc05127Oryx

dsc05136Oryx

dsc05212Zebra

Our driver Immanuel again manoeuvred through the ruts of the gravel road at high speed to ensure we had a safe, smooth and swift journey to the coast and that we did not collide with the various wildlife that we saw en route, such as oryx, springbok and zebra.

dsc05203Immanuel

dsc05205Immanuel with his fellow coach driving brother and Julian, our guide – quite a front row.

We had a couple more stops; first as we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and then to see an interesting canyon with sedimentary rocks (including mica. Finally we arrived at the Atlantic coast and stopped at Walvis Bay where we saw some flamingos and a few other birds in the fresh and misty conditions.

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Swakopmund was a short distance up the coast where we booked into our quaint German colonial style hotel (with dependable WiFi) and then out for dinner at a lovely seafood restaurant right on the sea front.

Click below for gallery of photos from today:

 

 

 

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Friday 18th January pm – Namibia

In the evening we booked a nature trail drive around the extensive grounds of the lodge and, as well as seeing quite a lot of wildlife (including oryx, jackels, ground squirrels and a bird of prey – possibly a Secretary Bird) , we enjoyed the most remarkable of “sundowners” watching the sun set from the distant hills which we see from our lodge. Our guide Werner was a most knowledgeable guide and a very welcoming host for the “sundowners”.

dsc05083Werner informing us about some of the local plants and their medicinal properties

dscf1766Jackel

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dscf1738Oryx

dscf1718Ground squirrel

dscf1730Secretary Bird

dsc05094Werner’s other skills

dsc05097It’s not a holiday without a sunset photo

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Click below for gallery of this evening’s photos:

 

 

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Friday 18th January 2019 am – Namibia

We made an early start for our morning excursion into the national park to explore the Namib Desert. There were a few birds to see, notably Pied Crows, Red-winged Starlings and again lots of Cape Sparrows and other LBJs, but the highlights from a nature point of view (and I make no excuse for including them here in my nature notes blog) were the dunes.

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dsc04957Our guide, Julian, was excellent at pointing out animal tracks in the desert.

dsc04852Pied Crow

dsc04904Red-Winged Starling

dsc05045Cape Sparrow

The younger members of the group – and some not quite so young – climbed Dune 45 (named because it is 45 k from the entrance to the park) before we moved on to visit the Deadvlei clay pans.

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The area at Deadvlei was also quite spectacular with clay pans covered in a crust of salt rich sand and surrounded by burnt orange and red towering dunes.

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On the way back we stopped briefly to see the small Sesriem Canyon where the Tsauchab River flows and creates the nearby salt and clay pans of Sossuvlei.

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By this time the heat was becoming overpowering. On our return to the lodge a shower and lunch were very welcome.

 

Click below for gallery of this morning’s  photos

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Thursday 17th January 2019 – Namibia

For the last few months our nature watching has been restricted, in the main, to our local urban parks. For the next few weeks it’s is going to be rather different and, hopefully, rather special.

The first part of or trip to Africa has started in Windhoek, the capital of  Namibia. Following an overnight flight from Heathrow to Johannesburg and a much shorter flight on to Windhoek we had a relaxing first evening in the Windhoek Country Club. This gave us a chance to meet and get to know the other members of our National Geographic G-Adventures group; a very exciting eclectic group with 3 Americans (a couple from Texas and a young man from Boston), 3 Canadians (a couple from Toronto and a young woman from Vancouver), 3 Brits (a young woman from London and us), a young German woman from Hamburg and a young Swiss woman from Lausanne. Plus our South African guide, Julian, has an interest in birds, which makes it even more exciting.

Before we set off on our long journey to the south of Namibia I had a few minutes for some bird photos in the grounds of the Country Club. The most interesting of the birds was a Groundscraper Thrush but there was plenty of others to see, including hirundines of some sort which were screeching back and forth to their nests in the apex of the hotel buildings.

dscf1527Groundscraper Thrush

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En route to Sesriem (6 hours to the south) we saw lots of interesting birds and even stopped for a while to see and learn about the huge nests of Sociable Weavers which we would see regularly along the road.

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dscf1573Sociable Weavers

dscf1558Sociable Weavers’ nest

We stopped for an excellent lunch at Conny’s Restaurant (which would make a blog in itself) where we also saw lots of Cape Sparrows, Southern Masked Weavers (who also have interesting nests),  a Sunbird  and three quite spectacular noisy Grey Go-Away-Birds.

dsc04650Gunter preparing a coffee tasting at Conny’s restaurant

dscf1669Southern Masked Weavers and nests (below)

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dscf1628Cape Sparrow

dscf1653Female Sunbird

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From the coach I saw several raptors and a Hornbill but there was no chance of photos. However, we did stop at one particular point and had great views of a particularly attractive lizard.

dscf1586Agama lizard

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dscf1679The roads were quite interesting but our excellent driver Immanuel was never phased by them and we travelled in comfort in his comfortable Chinese coach

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dscf1697Road works – and not a cone in sight!

In the grounds of our lodge (Sossuvlei) we saw Guinea Fowl, lots of Sociable Weavers (scavenging near the hotel with the Cape Sparrows) and a very attractive bird which I haven’t identified yet.

dsc04691The view from the lodge with younger members of the group.

dsc04675White-backed mousebird

dsc04694Dining al fresco

Click below for a gallery of photos from today (not always in chronological order as I used 2 cameras with different time settings – tut, tut.

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